History of Armenian Liturgical Music

Armenian liturgical music originated in the 5th century A.D. The earliest known examples are attributed to St. Mesrob Mashdotz, Catholicos St. Sahag, and Armenian scholar Movses Khorenatsi. The sharagan, or canonical hymn, is the pinnacle of Armenian sacred music. It was a beloved genre among Armenian monks, which explains the vast number of sharagans composed. The most gifted author of Armenian Church music was the twelfth century Catholicos Nerses Shnorhali, who perfected this religious art form and contributed several hundred of his own.  It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that Armenian liturgical music underwent significant changes. It was an Italian composer, Pietro Bianchini, who arranged the music for the Armenian Divine Liturgy for four-part mixed choir in a work he published in 1877 in Venice, Italy. In 1915, Komitas Vartabed began a interpretation based on that of Amy Apcar’s of Calcutta, India, but was unable to complete it due to the onset of the Armenian Genocide. The Komitas liturgy was eventually completed by one of his pupils, and published in 1933. 


The mission of Sts. Vartanantz Church Choir is to bring choral singing to the liturgical services for the Badarak (Divine Liturgy), weddings, funerals and other religious ceremonies throughout the year. The Sts. Vartanantz Church Choir is presently under the musical direction of Debra Pjojian and assistant directors Alysha Melkoun and Hasmig Phillips.  They are supported by a number of accomplished organists that include Mrs. Alice Simonian-Buratti, Mrs. Tigranouhi Oundjian-Minassian and Mr. Raffi Rachdouni. The membership of the choir represents a wide range of ages and voices.  

Who May Join?  Any parishioner who enjoys singing or anyone proficient in playing the piano/organ is welcome.

When Does the Choir Rehearse?
Presently, rehearsals are held the second Sunday of every month after church services.  Additional rehearsals may need to be held prior to church holidays such as Christmas, Holy Week, Vartanantz Day and other major religious observances.  

Who May I Contact In Order To Join?  
Please contact Debra Pjojian, Director at  for more information. 

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